Judge or­ders Greist recom­mit­ted

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com Staff Writer

WEST CH­ESTER >> In or­der­ing that killer Richard Greist re­main in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit­ted to Nor­ris­town State Hos­pi­tal for an­other year, the judge over­see­ing his case nev­er­the­less in­creased, by a small in­cre­ment, his un­su­per­vised of­f­ground priv­i­leges for 2019.

In an or­der signed Jan. 30, Judge Ed­ward Grif­fith al­lowed Greist to have one 48-hour pass ev­ery three months from the hos­pi­tal where he has been con­fined in a se­cure hous­ing unit for more than three decades af­ter he was found not guilty

by rea­son of in­san­ity in the bru­tal death of his preg­nant wife and their un­born son.

Pre­vi­ously, Greist had been granted un­su­per­vised trips off the grounds for a 12-hour pe­riod ev­ery month, plus three 24 hour passes ev­ery quar­ter. The new priv­i­lege means that Greist will be able to spend a to­tal of 32 days out­side the Nor­ris­town fa­cil­ity on his own.

He has other priv­i­leges that were laid out in Grif­fith’s four-page or­der, as well as a va­ri­ety of restric­tions

that, if not fol­lowed, could see his off-ground priv­i­leges with­drawn by the court. In the years that Greist has been al­lowed to at­tend church ser­vices, meet with his per­sonal psy­chi­a­trist, and con­duct other per­sonal busi­ness un­der the ap­proval and su­per­vi­sion of the hos­pi­tal staff.

The an­nual re­view of Greist’s cur­rent men­tal health and the terms un­der which he is com­mit­ted to Nor­ris­town had been de­layed for sev­eral months in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the var­i­ous psy­chi­a­trists in­volved in the case. The Ch­ester County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice has con­tin­ued to op­pose any new

free­doms for Greist, main­tain­ing that he re­mains a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity.

At his hear­ing last year, the psy­chi­a­trist who over­sees Greist’s case and treat­ment at the state hos­pi­tal, Dr. Con­so­la­cion Al­can­tara, once again told Grif­fith that Greist is se­verely men­tally dis­abled and is in need of con­tin­ued treat­ment, meet­ing the le­gal stan­dard for the judge to or­der his in­vol­un­tary com­mit­ment.

At some point in the process last year, the hos­pi­tal had in­di­cated that it might be will­ing to be­gin a re­view of how Greist could be for­mally re­leased from his com­mit­ment, but with­drew

that sug­ges­tion af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the at­tor­ney for the county’s Depart­ment of Men­tal Health, In­tel­lec­tual and De­vel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties, Brice Laverty of Downingtown, and Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Thomas Ost-Prisco.

Greist for years has main­tained that the psy­chosis that led him to fa­tally stab his 26-year-old wife Jan­ice Greist and their un­born eight-month of son is in re­mis­sion and that he should be re­leased from the hos­pi­tal. His per­sonal psy­chi­a­trist, Dr. Ira Brenner, has urged the court to be­gin a process of get­ting him ready for re­lease, while a pros­e­cu­tion-hired psy­chi­a­trist. Dr. Bar­bara Ziv, has ar­gued against it.

The restric­tions that Grif­fith put on Greist’s of­f­grounds trips in­clude that he be ac­com­pa­nied by an es­cort from the hos­pi­tal to his ther­apy ses­sions with Brenner, and that any of his other trips be ap­proved by his treat­ment team at the hos­pi­tal, which has the author­ity to limit the time pe­riod of any pass or place other lim­its on them.

The de­tails of the of­f­ground trips must be pro­vided to the Ch­ester County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, as well as the Crime Vic­tims Cen­ter of Ch­ester County, which acts as an ad­vo­cate for the re­main­ing sur­vivors of his at­tack, his two adult daugh­ters, and lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments. He is for­bid­den from hav­ing any con­tact with his daugh­ters or their fam­i­lies.

Grif­fith must also ap­prove of any planned out­ing.

There has never been an in­ci­dent of vi­o­lence of dis­or­derly con­duct by Greist in the years that he has been mak­ing su­per­vised and un­su­per­vised off-ground trips.

In May 1978, Greist, now 67, flew into a drug-fu­eled psy­chotic rage and stabbed his wife, to death with a screw­driver in their East Coven­try home. He cut her body open and killed and mu­ti­lated the baby, then stabbed one of his two daugh­ters in the eye and at­tacked his grand­mother with a butcher knife.

He was ar­rested by po­lice in the yard of his home, shirt­less and splat­tered with blood.

At a non-jury trial the fol­low­ing year, Greist was found not guilty by rea­son of in­san­ity by a Com­mon Pleas Court judge af­ter a de­fense ex­pert tes­ti­fied that he was suf­fer­ing from psy­chosis at the time of the at­tacks. Be­cause of that find­ing, he will never have to serve time in prison, but has been in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit­ted to Nor­ris­town for 38 years.

To con­tact staff writer Michael P. Rel­la­han, call 610-696-1544.


In this file photo, Richard Greist, cen­ter, leaves the Ch­ester County Court­house with friends and fam­ily af­ter his an­nual at­tempt to be dis­charged from Nor­ris­town State Hos­pi­tal.

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